Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Sunny Answer to Prayer

When I woke up this morning, exhausted from a full day yesterday, I didn’t feel like I’d survive taking care of the kids by myself. My husband was out of town, and I felt like hiding under the covers. Kids? What kids? Out of desperation, I prayed to the Lord: RESCUE ME!

Trusting for a positive answer to my simple, yet heartfelt plea, I thought maybe some kind soul would call out of the blue and say, “I’ll take your kids all day,” or suddenly a shot of energy would surge through my weary bones.

Well, the Lord didn’t answer my prayer in either of those ways, instead, He made the clouds go away and let the sun shine through. The kids have joyfully played outside all afternoon (AFTER they willingly did their chores—shocker!). And I’ve been able to rest and enjoy the moments they pop in to visit me. Huh, sometimes God answers prayer in ways we never thought of—sunshine like the rays of His love. Pretty cool.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday and Easter at Our House

Happy Good Friday! Remember to tell your kids the story of Jesus death on the cross today. To keep it simple and not scary, I'm planning on reading about it in their children's Bible. (I use Catherine Vos's The Child's Story Bible. Highly recommend!)

In our family, we like to NOT talk about the resurrection until Sunday. We pretend we're the twelve apostles and only talk about His death and sacrifice. We discuss questions like, "What do you think Peter did today?" and, "Do you think John was scared?" We sing, "Alas and Did My Savior Bleed," and "Oh Sacred Head Now Wounded." We don't sing resurrection songs or read the Easter story until the big day. It builds anticipation for more than just bunnies and baskets.

Then on Easter morning, I turn on the Hymns Triumphant version of "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" loud enough to wake the whole house! It always makes me cry. Later, after church, we'll do the Resurrection Eggs (Do you have these? It's a carton of plastic eggs filled with symbols of Easter along with a booklet to help explain. Great visual for kids.) We end the day with a reminder that even though Easter is a special time to remember Jesus resurrection, every Sunday is resurrection Sunday. And because He is risen, everything He said was true, He has the power to change our hearts, and He will always be with us, just like He promised!

For Good Friday, I'm posting one of my favorite poems by CS Lewis.

Love's as warm as tears,
Love is tears:
Pressure within the brain,
Tension at the throat,
Deluge, weeks of rain,
Haystacks afloat,
Featureless seas between
Hedges, where once was green

Love's as fierce as fire, 

Love is fire:
All sorts--Infernal heat
Clinkered with greed and pride, 

Lyric desire, sharp-sweet,
Laughing, even when denied, 

And that empyreal flame 

Whence all loves came. 

Love's as fresh as spring,
Love is spring:
Bird-song in the air,
Cool smells in a wood,
Whispering "Dare! Dare!"
To sap, to blood,
Telling "Ease, safety, rest,
Are good; not best."

Love's as hard as nails,
Love is nails: 

Blunt, thick, hammered through 

The medial nerves of One 

Who, having made us, knew 

The thing He had done,
Seeing (what all that is)
Our cross, and His. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Sinner's Morning

A sin occurred in our house last night. Of course, the nasty blight of transgression happens every day (by each of us—a lot by me!) but this was a theft and it needed to be “dealt with.”

Ugh. Not the peaceful morning I was hoping for. “Dealing” with my children’s sin is a stinky job. It saps my energy, brings anxiety, and honestly can be confusing. What’s the best thing to say, how do I make them see what they’ve done wrong? Will they confess and be sorry or will they burn with anger and reject me and the God who calls them?

Knowing the unpleasant task had to be done, my husband and I called the offender into our room and brought the charges. “We know you did this.” That’s pretty much all we said. The child’s expression morphed before our eyes. First it tightened with anger at being accused, then the eyes shifted upwards, as if a perfect excuse would suddenly appear through the ceiling, and then … tears welled and the crying began. “I’m sorry, Mom!” the repentant sinner wailed, “I shouldn’t have done it! It was WRONG!”

We commended our dear one for feeling shame over sin and willingly gave our forgiveness (after delivering the consequences) but our sensitive child held onto the shame like a treasured toy. “I’m terrible. I don’t know why I have to be so stupid. I always do the wrong thing…” and on and on.

Here’s where my confusion came in. I had no clue what to do. The problem wasn’t getting the confession, it was helping our child accept and receive forgiveness.

I’ve felt that way before. Have you? I bemoan how I’m a terrible mom, an unsatisfying wife, a lazy housekeeper, a thoughtless friend …These feelings perhaps ignited from a real sin I committed, but I magnified the guilt, mulling in the mud instead of receiving the cleansing bath of grace found in God’s Word.

And it came to me (and not through the ceiling)—the answer lay in Scripture. So I quoted the first one that came to mind. “The Lord is my shepherd.” Ah, perfect. No matter my sin, if I trust in Christ, he is my tender shepherd who loves me. What a picture of restoration. I told my child, who was still reveling in the shame game, to repeat the words aloud. As "The Lord is my shepherd" was said, his shoulders relaxed.

“Keep saying it, sweetie.” And, walking out of my room, although still upset, I could see the peace of God calming and comforting.

Reasoning, propping up self-esteem, even expressing our love and forgiveness only seemed to feed the cycle. My husband's and my words weren’t believed so it didn’t matter what we said to this child. To get out of the whirlpool, it took the stability of God’s love as shown through the precious words of Scripture. He needed the Gospel.